The Boy Scouts was my first “feminist cause.” My mother sent me to Brownies one year, where I learned to braid hair.
Both my brothers became Eagle Scouts and they learned how to survive in the wilderness, went on great big adventures, their service projects involved actually engineering and building projects. The Boy Scouts were allowed to fly in my dad’s plane. I was not.
I had Scout Envy. I was purely jealous. Now I have Scout Envy for my daughter.
I signed Ainsley up for Daisies, the age-equivalent of Cub Scouts. I saw those commercials by Dove about body image. Ainsley has done a bi-weekly craft while my friend’s sons have gone to Nasa for a sleepover and had Mother-Son and Father-Son camping trips.
Both organizations focus on helping others – Boy Scouts focuses on teaching boys real, tangible, useful skills like finance and engineering and survival – to help others. Girl Scouts focus on feeling really lousy that they are lucky enough to have a home and parents and food when others don’t and making a glue and glitter picture about it.
My daughter doesn’t need one more place on earth to make a craft or to learn to feel bad for others. Seriously, its at home, at church, at school, in literature, in girl-books, girl-games online. My poor child is so freaking empathetic by now I’m starting to worry about her ability to enjoy her life.
Here’s how Girl Scouts should be made-over: rip off the Boy Scouts.
Take the childhood obesity epidemic and make girls real competitive athletes. Body image will follow physical challenge.
Turn Girl Scouts into the science and engineering competitive track.
Take this financial crisis and teach girls how to compete in businessand understand a dang interest rate. Contract Suze Orman to write the curriculum.
Teach girls how to tie knots, survive in the wilderness, read a compass, and all the other cool outside activities Boy Scouts do.
Explore big professions and the skills they’ll need like salary negotiations. Visit Nasa, go on tours at Grad Schools, hold mock courts, negotiate contracts, explore world government, build websites, etc.
In short, Girl Scouts – you do not need to be hipper, more fun, flashier or sexier, or even more relatable to girls to get membership numbers up as this MSNBC story suggests is their goal. I’m not signing my daughter up for that.
Instead Girl Scouts should be hard. I want her to be challenged, exposed to ambitious goals and taught how to reach those goals. I want her natural abilities to be stretched to the point where she actually has to strive to meet very difficult goals. I want to expose her to adventure, Big Boy Adventures.
That’s what she’s not getting anywhere else. That’s what I’ll sign her up for.